Before your insurance agency considers investing in digital marketing services and software, make sure you’ve got the basics covered.

Digital marketing is becoming more advanced and complex, with a seemingly endless number of resources and tools available. The number of marketing solutions providers continues to increase with technological advances. Deciding where to focus your limited time and marketing dollars can challenge even the savviest business owners.

In a recent examination of 100 independent insurance agents on LinkedIn, New Horizons Marketing found that only nine of them had a website. Having an effective website is the single most efficient and cost-effective way you can market to potential customers, and an important means for your current customers to find you.

Not sure where to start? Cover these 5 basic online marketing necessities before taking on larger, more complex digital marketing strategies:

  1. Invest in a mobile-friendly website. Making your website mobile-friendly is an absolute must today. Mobile is where your customers are – and where your agency should be too. If that is not compelling enough, consider that Google openly gives preferential treatment to sites that are optimized for mobile devices. If your site doesn’t work seamlessly across all devices, you are losing ground in Google search rankings.
  2. Claim your business listing on local search and review sites. You can boost your agency’s digital presence by claiming and updating local business listings in major search engines like Google and Bing as well as review sites like Yelp and Facebook for Business. Each online local business index has its own claiming process with unique steps to verify your listing. When filling out the listings, remember that the more consistently you categorize and describe your business, the more it will help your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. And don’t forget – ask your best customers for their reviews on these platforms.
  3. Don’t use a Gmail, Yahoo or similar email account to conduct business. Personally attached to that AOL email you’ve had for 25 years? Don’t use it for your business! Having an official email associated with your agency’s domain name adds credibility, authenticity and a sense of security in today’s world of data hacks and breaches.
  4. Link your website to social media sites. At the very least, this serves to inform people of your social media presence. About a third of your potential customers will use social media to research your brand. Prospective customers have a multitude of choices when it comes to having their insurance needs met. They can easily opt for the local agent with a large social media following over one with a limited presence.
  5. Make community and staff a key part of your online persona. Local independent agencies and their staff are very often involved in their communities. As more and more business is conducted online, making a personal connection with people is a bit more challenging, but no less important. Community remains a key strength of the local independent agency’s brand. Showcase your agency’s team – and interactions with your local community – on your website and social media accounts.

Once your agency has its digital marketing basics taken care of, the groundwork has been prepped for some of the more advanced online marketing strategies available. If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. If you are like most local independent agencies, finding the time to dedicate to the complexities of online marketing can be challenging. Starting with the essentials will give you a foundation to build upon. A good start to this is to follow our online marketing checklist.